Some Native Americans called it “Mahicannittuck,” or “place of the Mohicans.” Dutch explorers first named it Mauritius, in honor of Prince Maurice of Nassau.
But the river we know today as the Hudson is labeled the “North River” on maps and in books from the 17th through 19th centuries, and in some cases well into the 20th century.
So who gave it the “North River” name, and why did it fall out of favor and become the Hudson?
A 1909 guidebook to the Hudson Fulton Celebration, honoring the anniversaries of the achievements of Henry Hudson and Robert Fulton, has this to say:
“The English more often gave it the name of the ‘North River,’ and by that name it is frequently called now. But the popular sense of justice came to call it ‘Hudson’s River,’ and that finally settled down to the ‘Hudson River.'”
However, other sources say it was the Dutch who called it the North River (the Delaware being the South River).
The name stuck well past the colonial era and was used interchangeably with Hudson River.
By the 1900s, North River fell by the wayside, and if you call it that today in general conversation, most people will have no idea what body of water you’re talking about.
The North River name survives on a few contemporary maps though, like the Hagstrom street map, above, published in the 1990s. And of course, it lives on in vintage postcards.
Tags: Hudson River name, Mauritius River, names for the Hudson River, New York street, North River, North River on old NYC maps, North River piers, Revolutionary War maps NYC, vintage New York postcards